Just as form follows function, Patricia Pabon believes parade follows purpose. Oh sure, the annual Labor Day Parade possesses the usual floats, music and marching. But to Pabon, a 28-year veteran teacher who turned out for the Sept. 12 event, pomp isn’t the point. “We have a rich history with unions in New York,” says Pabon, a UFT chapter leader and special education high school teacher at PS 12 Lewis and Clark School in the Bronx. “Younger people don’t realize that power is in numbers and the benefits they have today didn’t just appear like magic. They are the result of unions!” No need to convince Lowena Howard, who also marched up Fifth Avenue with hundreds of fellow UFT members, all carrying blue and white umbrellas. “I go to the Labor Day Parade to show solidarity with the UFT, as well as with workers and unions in general,” says Howard, a special education math teacher at Humanities and Arts HS in Queens. “We are the nuts and bolts of this city.” Don’t get them wrong. UFT members love a parade as much as the next person. “The floats and the camaraderie and the spectators calling out and chanting in support of all working people,” says Howard. “I love all of it.” One guy who tried to get out of going received a blistering blowback. “My fiancé, who works for Con Ed, tried to stay home,” reported Pabon, the Bronx chapter leader. “I told him, ‘You guys were fired last year and it was the union that got your jobs back!’” He not only went to the parade. He proudly carried his union’s banner.
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Power in numbers